The wealth of content, cameos and crimefighting being stuffed into Batman: Arkham City has wowed us to a certain extent. Rocksteady’s original take on Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego was moody, dark, fantastically presented, gloriously voice-acted and offered up some excellent, bone crunching action with a bit of brilliant exploration. The tense game of cat-and-mouse between Batman and the Joker was punctuated by delightfully sinister Scarecrow sections, a cameo from Killer Croc and no small amount of high-pitched postulating from Harley Quinn. For this game, though, Rocksteady have served up a parade of characters who’ll be making an appearances from Dr. Strange to Two-Face, from Robin to Bane, and we couldn’t be more excited.
For me, sitting around outside the Arkham City room in Warner Bros section of the business area at Gamescom was like being a child who’s desperate to get out of bed on Christmas Day, I could hardly contain myself, I just wanted to burst through the door snatch up a controller and bask in The Dark Knight’s upcoming video games adventure. Soon enough though the door swung open and I was ushered inside with a group of very excited journalists.
Taking a seat proved to be harder than first thought though, thanks to a pair of futuristic 3D TV glasses sat on every seat. It was soon revealed that this instalment of the series will support 3D across every platform (PS3, Xbox 360 and PC), and despite Dax Ginn telling us that the environments would look “super hot” in 3D, I’ve got to be honest you won’t be missing out on anything by playing it in 2D, in fact you might even save yourself a rather nasty headache!
The first thing that we got to take a look at were the combat and predator challenge maps, which are slightly different this time around because you get to choose whether to go into them as either Catwoman, or Batman.
The combat challenges consist of four rounds that get progressively harder, so you can expect to face an army of enemies during the final wave. There are plenty of moves to dispatch the gormless goons you come up against including, single takedowns, double takedowns, triple counters, and even environmental counters. Also, there are double the number of combat animations in this game compared to the previous one.
On the other side of the coin are the predator missions which are heavily stealth orientated, as a result you’ll need to carefully plan your course of action before precisely taking out your enemies from the comfort of the shadows.
At this point I’ll take a little bit of time out to talk about Batman’s feisty feline love interest. It’s actually pretty good fun stepping into Catwoman’s shoes. Her whip has multiple functions like stunning enemies, helping to grab hold of bits of the environment in a similar fashion to Batman’s grapple gun, and coming into fantastic use for stealth takedowns. She’s also able to crawl across ceilings, which means that she can access areas Batman can’t.
The Caped Crusader is never short of a few gadgets and we got to see a couple of new ones in the form of smoke bombs and remote electric charges. The smoke bombs are great for causing a distraction that allows you to swoop around behind your enemies and then take them out of the equation with a stealth takedown. The remote electric charges let you stun bad guys from a distance before you run up to them and perform a brutal finishing move. Some of the old gadgets we’ve seen before have also been slightly upgraded, for instance you can increase and decrease the speed of the remote controlled batarang, as well as quickly flipping it round 180 degrees with a push of your trigger buttons.
Finally, I got to play the demo and decided to see how easily I could navigate around the environment and I’ve got to admit it’s deceptively difficult at first, in fact I found myself dive-bombing into the ground on more than one occasion. After a while though I got the hang of things and the controls do make sense.
Now that I’ve had a go with Arkham City I’m even more excited about it’s release, which means that the two month wait until it comes out will be excruciatingly difficult!
Batman: Arkham City’s out on 21st October for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.
First published on Dealspwn (18 August 2011)